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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Montana among worst states for teen drunk driving

Researchers at CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com have come out with a list of the 15 worst states when it comes to teen drinking and driving. The study shows that there may be a connection between the number of high school students who drink and drive and the rate of drunk driving fatalities. Montana residents will want to know more because this state was third on the list.

First of all, drunk driving fatalities make up one third of all driving fatalities. Nationwide, an average of 3.4 per 100,000 people die in drunk driving crashes. Drunk driving is also behind thousands of injury cases. The CDC found that about 5.5% of all teens drive after drinking alcohol in any amount in spite of the federal law placing the minimum drinking age at 21.

What to be aware of when driving this fall

Drivers in Montana and throughout the United States need to be aware of the potential dangers that they face while driving during the fall season. For instance, roads can become slick when they are covered by rain or leaves that are falling off trees. In addition to making roads slippery, falling leaves can obscure traffic lines and other important markings. If rain and leaves are on the road at the same time, it can feel as if a person is driving on ice.

It is also important to be aware of those who spend as much time paying attention to the leaves as they do the road ahead of them. As the colors change, individuals may drive slowly to observe them or stop to take a picture without considering others around them. Driving during the early morning or early evening hours can be tougher in the fall because school is back in session.

Study reveals how effective automatic car safety systems can be

The vast majority of car accidents in Montana and around the country involve some kind of human error. Car manufacturers have introduced a range of features in recent years that are designed to monitor road conditions and step in when drivers become distracted or make mistakes, and a recent study reveals that they can be extremely effective. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied accident reports from 10 states to gauge the effectiveness of safety features like automatic braking systems, blind spot monitors and lane departure warnings, and they discovered that they can cut the number of some kinds of accidents almost in half.

The researchers were able to determine which vehicles were equipped with advanced driver assistance systems using information provided by General Motors. They found that vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems were involved in 46% fewer rear-end collisions; lane departure warnings cut side impacts by 20%, and blind spot alerts combined with departure warnings reduced lane-change accidents by more than a quarter.

Drowsy driving, an underreported trend

Up to 9.5% of all auto accidents are due to drowsy driving according to a 2018 AAA study. This is a startling departure from government reports in the past, which estimated that between 1% and 2% of crashes are caused by drowsiness. The figure 9.5% is high when Montana residents consider that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is to blame for 5% of all crashes.

Drowsy driving is an underreported phenomenon because police do not have any unerring way to detect it. In the absence of witnesses or special camera footage, drivers involved in a crash can easily lie about how tired they were. More than half of all drowsy driving crashes occur in the dark.

Why individuals should avoid drowsy driving

Those who choose to drive on Montana roads should make sure that they are not sleep deprived or under the influence of sleep medication. According to a Consumer Reports survey, roughly 20% of respondents who took prescription sleep aids did so less than seven hours before driving a vehicle. The directions say that an individual should wait at least seven hours before driving to avoid doing so while groggy.

Individuals who drive while sleep deprived could experience the same effects as those who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Driving after being awake for 24 consecutive hours is the same as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .10%, which is above the legal limit of .08%. A study conducted by AAA in 2018 found that 9.5% of crashes are caused by drowsy drivers.

Car accident may lead to a variety of injuries

You drive to work just as you do on any other typical Monday morning. However, your morning ends very differently when a distracted motorist on the highway crashes into the side of your car.

Following the accident, you now have car damage and serious injuries. Fortunately, you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries you have suffered in such a situation. Here is a glimpse at the various kinds of injuries you could suffer in an accident, as well as how to seek damages for these injuries in Montana.

Doctors warn against misdiagnosis of sepsis

Many Montana residents are worried about the potential dangers posed by infections, especially because serious infections can be deadly. If a patient goes into sepsis, he or she could die because of the way the body responds to the presence of an infectious agent. While treatment of sepsis or septic shock is critical to save lives, the wrong treatment decisions can also be dangerous. Physicians have raised questions about a campaign that aims to begin specific treatments for sepsis within one hour after medical professionals recognize the condition.

Some emergency room physicians argue that following these guidelines strictly could actually pose an increased danger to patients without protecting lives, due to the risk of a misdiagnosis or overtreatment. Sepsis can, of course, be fatal, and treatment is critical. However, a misdiagnosis could lead to powerful, inaccurate treatment that could cause severe, long-lasting side effects. Previous directives for treating sepsis put in place protocols for three and six hours after diagnosis. The intention was to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment, but the rush associated with a one-hour protocol could lead to mistakes in diagnosis, doctors argue.

Study finds three conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed

In July 2019, the journal Diagnosis published a study showing how the majority of medical malpractice claims arise because of the misdiagnosis of three conditions: cancer, vascular events and infections. If medical experts focused on reducing these three types of misdiagnoses, there would be fewer instances of patient injury and death in Montana and across the U.S.

Researchers looked at some 55,000 malpractice claims filed between 2006 and 2015, especially the 12,000 claims arising from a misdiagnosis. It turned out that 74% of these claims arose from the misdiagnosis of the above three conditions. Cancer made up 38% of them, vascular events 23% and infections 13%.

Man dies in SunTrust Park beer cooler, widow files suit

In June 2018, a man installing a beer-dispensing system at SunTrust Park, the home ballpark of the Atlanta Braves, was found dead in a concession stand beer cooler. Now, the widow is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Atlanta Braves and the construction team in charge of the installation. Montana residents should know that the man had invented a system called Draftwell that reduces the average pour time for beer. He had installed it previously in two Major League Baseball stadiums.

The lawsuit alleges that the construction team knew about issues with the door release mechanisms in the stadium's coolers. In fact, the team had received an email about this prior to the incident. The team should have also known about any carbon dioxide leaks in the draft beer system. Not only that, but they should have also addressed the issues before the installation began.

Surgeons' unprofessional behavior leads to patient complications

Every year in Montana and across the U.S., surgeons perform an average of 7 million procedures. Between 70% and 80% of surgeons are never reported by co-workers for unprofessional behavior. The remainder, though, are putting patients at a higher risk for post-operative complications. This is the finding of a new study published in JAMA Surgery.

In all, some 500,000 patients may be affected annually by the unprofessional behavior of surgeons. This behavior includes poor communication, the outright failure to communicate orders, disrespectful treatment of co-workers and unsafe care. For patients, the result could be stroke, cardiovascular conditions, sepsis, renal conditions or pneumonia, to name a few complications.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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